Brussels Declaration On Conventional Arms Control

Issued by the North Atlantic Council

  • 11 Dec. 1986
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  • Last updated: 04 Nov. 2008 19:41

  1. At Halifax we agreed on the objective of strengthening stability and security in the whole of Europe, through increased openness and the establishment of a verifiable, comprehensive and stable balance of conventional forces at lower levels. In pursuit of this objective we set up a High Level Task Force; we have today reviewed its first report. We have instructed it to continue in being and to provide further regular reports to the Council.
  2. Arms control should enhance, and not diminish, security in Europe. We reiterate our commitment to the maintenance of an effective and credible deterrent posture. Therefore our approach to arms control will remain consistent with the need, at each step of the negotiating process, to retain the means to implement Alliance and national strategies.
  3. While maintaining effective deterrence involving both nuclear and conventional forces, we seek to establish a stable relationship of conventional forces in Europe. Reductions in nuclear weapons which are the subject of discussions between the US and the USSR in Geneva would increase the importance of eliminating conventional disparities.
  4. We are therefore ready to open East-West discussions with a view to the establishment of a new mandate for negotiating on conventional arms control covering the whole of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals.
  5. For such negotiations to succeed, there must be recognition of the facts about the current situation, and a common understanding on philosophy, objectives and methods.

The Facts

  1. Statements by Eastern spokesmen sometimes imply that the present military situation in Europe is stable and balanced. It is not. On the contrary, it is marked by asymmetries and disparities which vary from region to region but which are detrimental to Western security and which are a source of potential instability. The relevant factors include:
    • the armaments, equipment types, deployments, numbers, mobility and readiness of the armed forces involved;
    • the information, predictability and confidence about them; - considerations of geography.

The Philosophy

  1. Military forces should exist to prevent war and to ensure self-defence, not for the purpose of initiating aggression and not for purposes of political or military intimidation.

The Objectives

  1. These should be:
    • the establishment of a stable and secure level of forces, geared to the elimination of disparities;
    • a negotiating process which proceeds step-by-step, and which guarantees the undiminished security of all concerned at each stage;
    • focus on the elimination of the capability for surprise attack or for the initiation of large scale offensive action;
    • further measures to build confidence and to improve openness and calculability about military behaviour;
    • the application of the measures involved to the whole of Europe but in a way which takes account of and seeks to redress regional imbalances and to exclude circumvention;
    • an effective verification regime (in which detailed exchanges of information and on-site inspection will play a vital part) to ensure compliance with the provisions of any agreement, to guarantee that limitations on force capabilities are not exceeded.

The Methods

  1. We propose that distinct negotiations take place:
    • to build upon and expand the results of the Stockholm Conference on confidence and security building measures;
    • to eliminate existing disparities, from the Atlantic to the Urals, and establish conventional stability at lower levels, between the countries whose forces bear most immediately upon the essential security relationship in Europe, namely those belonging to the Alliance and the Warsaw Pact.
  2. In the light of the foregoing therefore, we are ready to initiate discussion on enhancing conventional stability in the whole of Europe.